The first blog chapter about Nicholas’ journey with cerebral palsy, Against All Odds, shares the story of this little go-getter who came into this world under the worst of circumstances. Both WFC and Nick’s family have received countless comments about his blog chronicle. One WFC employee couldn’t wait until the end of the series to find out if Nick played T-ball or not! Thus, we decided perhaps many of you who have loyally followed Nick’s story (thank you!) might be wondering too. And so, here’s “the rest of the story.”
Michele Clouse and Sue Carder, Nick’s speech therapist and physical therapist, respectively, and I set a date to attend one of Nicholas’ games at Utica’s ballpark. The game was for the most part uneventful. Sue learned that in T-ball, the coach gently pitches the ball to the batter three times before setting up the T-stand. Ever the physical therapist, she started planning right then how she and Nicholas would practice hitting without the T-stand in their next PT session. At this game, Nick took uncertain swings at the pitches, but managed a nice hit off the tee. His run to first base was unsurprisingly slow given his physical challenge. His mom and grandmother informed us teams figured this fact out, so opponents often took the ball to first for the assured out. Who’d thought four, five and six-year olds could think strategy? This T-ball game wasn’t the kind I remember when my nephews played over fifteen years ago. Nick, along with a few of his team mates and his opponents would occasionally take a seat in the field and throw a little dirt around, but for the most part, they were savvy on the field. Since the season’s start, Nick played the catcher’s position a couple of times, as well as outfielder. After this game, he was happy to visit with us but was less interested in our opinion about his ball performance. Nicholas was more interested in what cars we drove and where we parked so he could go see them!
I attended another one of Nick's game later in the season on Tuesday evening without telling him in advance. I arrived shortly after the game had started, while Nick was in the outfield. When he came in from the outfield, he studied the bleachers where I sat between his Mimi (Linda) and mom (Carol). Nick was also the first up to bat upon the inning change, and as he moved towards the home plate along the baseline fence from the dugout, he diligently eyed the bleachers to figure out who I was. Halfway to the plate, recognition donned on him and he immediately detoured from his path to home plate to the fence to tell me hello! The three of us reminded him, “You’re up to bat, Nick!” Getting back on track towards home plate, he pointed out I looked different, as if to explain why it took him so long to figure out who I was. Nick made a hit off the tee but his opponent tagged him out halfway to first base.
Upon his return to the dugout, Mimi met him there to give him some water through his feeding tube; it was a hot evening. She returned to the bleachers stating Nicholas’ request for my presence at the dugout. Knowing he’d focus on nothing else until he talked to me, I went over to say hello. That stinker is one smart cookie and nothing gets by him. He pointed out I didn’t post the blog the day before as usual! I post blog chapters on Mondays and Fridays. Feeling a bit chastised, I explained I wasn’t at work Monday thus my reasoning for not posting until that morning of his game. Unwilling to accept my answer at face value, he insisted for more information; I explained I wasn’t feeling well and stayed home. With an exuberant “Oh!” that seemed to appease his displeasure and excuse my tardy blog post, we moved on in our brief conversation.
The Utica Stallions’ opponent, the Sorgho Cardinals, was whooping their butts in this particular game. We were relieved the bottom of the last inning for this game arrived, as the Stallions went to bat. None of us expected a rallying effort by this group of kiddos, least of all led by Nicholas! What happened in the bottom of this inning made our sweating in the hot setting sun worth every minute! And it was the talk in the Green Therapy Pavilion and PT department for the next week!
In the Next Blog Entry: He's Rounding Second, Third. . . - “Watching him cross that span between bases made me wonder if it felt like a mile to him. Again, the Cardinal players fumble as to what to do with the ball. Nerve-wracking to watch, Nicholas did it! Safe at second!”
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